#1
Hello, all. Well, as the title implies, I'm rather stuck on whether or not I should get a guitar teacher. I suppose I should give some information to make things clearer. I got my guitar almost 7 years ago, have been lightly but constantly playing ever since. I have moved from state to state so much, never had extra money for frivolous things, so have never upgraded from my $120 Ibanez. Nor have I been able to focus 100% on hours of practice everyday. Therefore in 7 years I have improved about as much as most people do in about a year. I suppose another thing that stumps me is the fact that I love just about every genre of music imaginable and love all guitar styles, so I am literally clueless as to where I should begin, what technique first. And, I've lived in the woods in Alaska most of my life, so I have no musician friends, so no practice partners. All of this would seem to point to an obvious need for a teacher, but in every other artistic/creative aspect, I'm a complete DIY teach-oneself type, and I usually absolutely thrive when teaching myself anything (I suppose because I was home-schooled), but I'm stumped at this! I love guitar so much, and I know I have it in me to be a great musician. My goal is to become a professional guitarist.

Sorry if this was poorly written, or difficult to read.
But surely I speak for many other confused hope-to-be musicians! LOL

Thanks for reading!
#2
It is quite possible for many people to teach themselves to play the guitar. A teacher will help I guess, particularly because you seem to be lacking direction.

If you learn better by setting your own course of study then you can do this and still get the odd lesson from a teacher to help correct any flaws you might have.

The best place to start is to play music that you love. Having diverse taste should not lead to indecision or confusion in regard to where to start. You find a song you would love to play and you sit down and learn to play it. If there are things that require constant practice then you practice until you master them.

It is not true that you have never been able to focus 100% on hours of practice a day. You place the priority and importance on the things in your life. It's like people saying "I would love to go to the gym, but I just don't have the time." If you really want something you make it a priority and you find the time.

Besides you don't have to practice for hours everyday. However, practicing everyday for 20 minutes a day everyday is better than three hours one day a week. I find it hard to believe that you can not find 20 minutes a day to practice.

And then to say your goal is to become a professional guitarist...c'mon man. You are going to need to start putting in some regular time.

With or without a teacher the biggest determining factor in your improvement is you. specifically it's the practice you put in. It has to be regular, at least six days a week, and it has to be quality practice.

A teacher should be able to help ensure you are getting quality practice. However getting a teacher is not a guarantee that they will improve the quality of your practice and not having a teacher does not mean you can't develop your own practice regime. It's really up to you.

Either way you need to do the work. Set yourself a bare minimum of 20 minutes per day and make sure that it is non negotiable. No matter what you have on that day make a promise to yourself that you will get a minimum of 20 minutes per day.

Aim to get more practice (an hour or two) in every day. So you'll be practicing maybe an hour or two every evening and on days when there is just too much on to get a full hour then you have to do at least 20mins. On other days you might find you have extra time to put in and can practice for three or four hours.

If you want to be a professional guitarist then you need to get serious pretty quickly and put in some real time and commitment to mastering your instrument. No excuses.

EDIT: So I kind of made it clear so far that your post suggests you haven't really seen the guitar as a worthy investment of your time, I also noticed you describe it as frivolous and not a worthy investment of your money...and then you say you want to be a professional musician. Sit down and ask yourself how committed you really are to this goal? What does that commitment really mean? Is it enough to dream about it and talk about it? What do your past actions tell you about your commitment to this goal? What are you willing to do to make this goal a reality? How much of your time and money are you prepared to put in? Are you willing to risk it all to achieve this goal?

By the way, I'm not trying to be harsh or mean to you. I'm trying to be a mirror and reflect back what I see in a way that is honest and hopefully helpful to you.
Si
#3
even if you had a teacher, you wouldn't just become great. you still need to take maters into your own hands. a teacher, a good one anyway, teaches you HOW to learn, not just WHAT to learn. a teacher only shows you the path, you need to walk down it.

start by learning the style of music you listen to the most. learn your favorite songs, learn the techniques that apply to them. as you progress, branch out to other genres you enjoy. watch youtube, there are tons of great free lessons on there as well as videos of great players to watch and listen to. that's how i learned to play, watching and listening, and i got a few books too to teach me scales and chords and some theory and what not. a teacher still might be a good idea though even if just to give you another person to play with from time to time.

i started teaching a bit. with my students i encourage them to go home and do things themselves, look things up, try things out. when they come back, i help them with anything they are struggling with and maybe show them something new, help them with a song or show them new one. music is about having fun, and expressing yourself. all the other stuff is just tools to help you do those two things. so i say, start by learning songs and techniques that are fun and make you want to play more. find some backing tracks to play along with, or just jam along with your favorite songs and try to come up with your own parts or learn what they are playing. you wont have your teacher with you 24/7, so you'll need to do these things anyways. finding someone to play with and bounce ideas off of and talk about music is a big plus though. hope that helps a bit and like 20tigers said, try to get in about 20 mins to 30 mins a day at least. i play almost any time i'm watching a show or something online.
#4
Thank you all very much for your advice. Yeah, I suppose I just lack direction and 20tigers is correct, there's no way I can't at least play 20 minutes a day. I do play everyday, but maybe only for about 5 minutes a day. Hahaha! I think I'll keep teaching myself guitar, I gotta just find some sort of place to start. I'll be more diligent in my learning and practice. And I guess not knowing any other guitarists to discuss technique with is a little discouraging. But I'll just post on here with all my dumb questions I guess. lol

I gotta just quit my complaining and start taking action. I've been scared of asking a billion questions but acting that way, how will I ever get better?! Hahaha! I shall start today, and will not go off track. I'll use this site more often, it seems to have helped lots of people just posting with their questions.

Thanks, y'all!
#5
In short, a teacher can provide direction and give you the personal attention that is needed. It's all about how much time you put in. If you desire to be one of the best, it must be a serious commitment.
#6
Fret frier, you are right, I do need to make it a serious commitment. I don't know if I want to be one of the very best like the famous virtuosos (though that wouldn't be bad either), I do want a music related job in the future though. So I need to take guitar more seriously than before.
#7
Quote by kafkaesque_1027
there's no way I can't at least play 20 minutes a day. I do play everyday, but maybe only for about 5 minutes a day. Hahaha!

Thanks, y'all!


If you truly want to be a professional guitarist, you need from 2 to 4 hours per day, at a minimum and for many years. 20 minutes per day is about as useful as not playing at all.

You need to put in the time.
#9
Quote by reverb66
If you truly want to be a professional guitarist, you need from 2 to 4 hours per day, at a minimum and for many years. 20 minutes per day is about as useful as not playing at all.

You need to put in the time.


Very true. I think now that I have a good amount of advice I'll practice as much as possible. I think at the moment I can practice for 2 to 4 hours a day.
#10
Quote by Sean0913
I'm not sure how good you are or how basic or your skills, but have you tried free online lessons, like Justin Sandercoe's? I don't know what your skill sets are, or any gaps in your playing.

Best,

Sean


His lessons are pretty helpful, I only ever watch one here or there, never watched the series of lessons in order. Maybe I should. I'm not even sure what level my "skill" is, some things I'm a terrible beginner at and some things I guess intermediate, but if another guitarist saw me play they would more than likely cringe.

Sorry if that's a vague reply, but I'm not sure how to gauge my playing capabilities.
#11
A teacher can definitely be cool, but you need to put in effort as always as well. I think which teacher is definitely key as well.

I think different people would be more suited for different teachers, and it's a bit tough to find the right one for you, because I find there isn't easily a good way to kind of test them out, without getting an actual lesson with them. and even that, can be slightly slow.

If I was looking for a teacher, I'd have to have interviews or watch some sample videos about them or something. But that doesn't really exist so much I think. Maybe on YouTube, idk.
#12
Quote by kafkaesque_1027
His lessons are pretty helpful, I only ever watch one here or there, never watched the series of lessons in order. Maybe I should. I'm not even sure what level my "skill" is, some things I'm a terrible beginner at and some things I guess intermediate, but if another guitarist saw me play they would more than likely cringe.

Sorry if that's a vague reply, but I'm not sure how to gauge my playing capabilities.


In learning, I find it more helpful to take the approach to decide exactly what you want, try to do it, and learn what you need to, in order to be able to do it.

There are different magnitudes of that as well. So, in guitar, you would choose, whether you want to be more of a songwriter, a classical player, an instrumentalist, an improviser, blues player, just get good at learning songs so you can play them for fun or whatever you want.

Then depending on what you want, there are a few different approaches you could take. There are some basic things that you'd want to know for all of those, like chords, and stuff like that. You'll want to learn some songs as well, and that's a great way to learn all of that stuff, so pick a song you like, and learn it. when you find parts you can't do, figure out why, and learn that.

If you want to improvise and songwrite, then some theory would be handy as well.

There are many approaches to theory I find. All are not equal, imo. I think different approaches are more suitable to different people. I think the order is key as well, and I personally find that there a fine line of balance between just playing stuff without learning much, and sitting in a lecture hall watching somehow to equations on a blackboard that you have to go and study for an exam.

But again, different people are different, and like to learn differently, and have different goals and aims. So, they're all good, you just need to find what's good for you.

For some people that's having a teacher, for some it isn't. It's a personal thing.

I never had one, I think a lot of teachers I would have come across would not have suited me very well. But if I could go back and be taught, a younger me, by an older me, I would definitely be down for that.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 5, 2014,
#13
Quote by fingrpikingood
In learning, I find it more helpful to take the approach to decide exactly what you want, try to do it, and learn what you need to, in order to be able to do it.

There are different magnitudes of that as well. So, in guitar, you would choose, whether you want to be more of a songwriter, a classical player, an instrumentalist, an improviser, blues player, just get good at learning songs so you can play them for fun or whatever you want.

Then depending on what you want, there are a few different approaches you could take. There are some basic things that you'd want to know for all of those, like chords, and stuff like that. You'll want to learn some songs as well, and that's a great way to learn all of that stuff, so pick a song you like, and learn it. when you find parts you can't do, figure out why, and learn that.

If you want to improvise and songwrite, then some theory would be handy as well.

There are many approaches to theory I find. All are not equal, imo. I think different approaches are more suitable to different people. I think the order is key as well, and I personally find that there a fine line of balance between just playing stuff without learning much, and sitting in a lecture hall watching somehow to equations on a blackboard that you have to go and study for an exam.

But again, different people are different, and like to learn differently, and have different goals and aims. So, they're all good, you just need to find what's good for you.

For some people that's having a teacher, for some it isn't. It's a personal thing.

I never had one, I think a lot of teachers I would have come across would not have suited me very well. But if I could go back and be taught, a younger me, by an older me, I would definitely be down for that.


This was very helpful. I do want to become a songwriter, so I've been wanting to study theory. I can read music well enough to get by, but I know no music theory, which bugs me really really badly. But should I just focus on getting better at playing before learning theory? Or is theory part of the process from the start?

Also, I have decided that I do have the time to study for at least two hours a day, but I don't think I know enough songs or practices to add up to 2 hours. I know, that's really pathetic.

I'd be interested in knowing everyone's usual way of practicing guitar, you know, what do you practice on for hours a day on guitar? unless that's off-topic.
#14
Quote by kafkaesque_1027
This was very helpful. I do want to become a songwriter, so I've been wanting to study theory. I can read music well enough to get by, but I know no music theory, which bugs me really really badly. But should I just focus on getting better at playing before learning theory? Or is theory part of the process from the start?

Also, I have decided that I do have the time to study for at least two hours a day, but I don't think I know enough songs or practices to add up to 2 hours. I know, that's really pathetic.

I'd be interested in knowing everyone's usual way of practicing guitar, you know, what do you practice on for hours a day on guitar? unless that's off-topic.


The fun way, is to learn theory as you learn the songs. Like I said, different people are different. You don't need to know anything to practice 2 hrs a day. Those 2 hrs are the hours where you learn things.

2 hrs is really easy for me to go through in practice. What do I practice? It totally depends on what I'm working on. I've been through a lot of different things. Sometimes I will spend the time songwriting. sometimes learning songs. Sometimes noodling improv style, sometimes just dexterity drills. It depends.

I prefer the style where I focus on one thing for a while, and then move to something else. I usually don't like to mix things together too much. but sometimes I will. Like, right now, I learned a couple of tunes, and to play those how I wanted to, i decided to bite the bullet and kind of change how I play. My style has always been to play with my thumb wrapped around the bottom of the neck, and for some stuff that's great. But I can do more if I barre with my index. For some chords, and moving around alot improvising while keeping the index barred like a capo requires a lot of strength on acoustic guitar though. So, I have recently spent a lot of time practicing just that, those songs, and also a bit of harmonic minor, which I always used by ear, but never really learned by pattern off by heart.

That's unusual for me to have so many things going at once like that.

I generally work in chunks. I find going away and coming back to stuff works real well. Sometimes I'll take a break from playing for a while too, and do a production session, like the track in my sig.

2hrs is nothing though, I could do 2 hours just for fun without even realizing it's gone. One thing I like to do also, is put on a playlist of tunes I like and improv over those. I'll practice scales and things that way as well.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 6, 2014,
#15
Quote by 20Tigers


EDIT: So I kind of made it clear so far that your post suggests you haven't really seen the guitar as a worthy investment of your time, I also noticed you describe it as frivolous and not a worthy investment of your money...and then you say you want to be a professional musician. Sit down and ask yourself how committed you really are to this goal? What does that commitment really mean? Is it enough to dream about it and talk about it? What do your past actions tell you about your commitment to this goal? What are you willing to do to make this goal a reality? How much of your time and money are you prepared to put in? Are you willing to risk it all to achieve this goal?

By the way, I'm not trying to be harsh or mean to you. I'm trying to be a mirror and reflect back what I see in a way that is honest and hopefully helpful to you.


Oops, just now noticed you edited your post. I do see what you mean. I really understand it does look like that when I wrote my first post... But honestly, the guitar means so much to me, I could go on a long corny story about it even. I understand you're wanting to act as a mirror and help me, you honestly did, you've made me realize I need to get with the program and stop making up reasons not to get better. I am honestly willing to put off all other things for this because it's really important to me. Well, I had a rather unfortunate past full of intense stress that kept me from giving much of any of my passions attention, money was also a struggle. I guess I could have practiced a little more on my old Ibanez, and been grateful that I at least had that. Anyhow, I'm no longer living in my greatly misfortunate past, so I am now in the mindset needed for good practice. I suppose if I would have mentioned that immense stress and difficult situations affected my past motivation, Then I would not have come off as fickle or shallow. Hahaha!

I shan't dwell on the past, I will include my old ibby and the joys of playing guitar into my life now!
#16
Quote by fingrpikingood
The fun way, is to learn theory as you learn the songs. Like I said, different people are different. You don't need to know anything to practice 2 hrs a day. Those 2 hrs are the hours where you learn things.

2 hrs is really easy for me to go through in practice. What do I practice? It totally depends on what I'm working on. I've been through a lot of different things. Sometimes I will spend the time songwriting. sometimes learning songs. Sometimes noodling improv style, sometimes just dexterity drills. It depends.

I prefer the style where I focus on one thing for a while, and then move to something else. I usually don't like to mix things together too much. but sometimes I will. Like, right now, I learned a couple of tunes, and to play those how I wanted to, i decided to bite the bullet and kind of change how I play. My style has always been to play with my thumb wrapped around the bottom of the neck, and for some stuff that's great. But I can do more if I barre with my index. For some chords, and moving around alot improvising while keeping the index barred like a capo requires a lot of strength on acoustic guitar though. So, I have recently spent a lot of time practicing just that, those songs, and also a bit of harmonic minor, which I always used by ear, but never really learned by pattern off by heart.

That's unusual for me to have so many things going at once like that.

I generally work in chunks. I find going away and coming back to stuff works real well. Sometimes I'll take a break from playing for a while too, and do a production session, like the track in my sig.

2hrs is nothing though, I could do 2 hours just for fun without even realizing it's gone. One thing I like to do also, is put on a playlist of tunes I like and improv over those. I'll practice scales and things that way as well.


That's very insightful! I suppose I will spend the rest of my evening playing and maybe learn a couple of new songs, or maybe finish learning the ones I know bits of. It's very inspiring to hear how other people practice. I have all kinds of trouble with fast picking so I'll give that priority. And I guess just fix whatever needs to be fixed for now.
#17
I was also thinking of hiring a guitar teacher because I think it would be faster if I have one.
#18
Quote by ValerieCasady
I was also thinking of hiring a guitar teacher because I think it would be faster if I have one.


The other users advice on here is very helpful in deciding. I think I personally will go ahead and use YouTube as my teacher. In fact I've been watching lessons on YouTube for the past couple of hours and learned more than I've learned in years! And discovered that I have missed out on all of the basic little beginner things! How long have you been playing?
#19
Quote by ValerieCasady
I was also thinking of hiring a guitar teacher because I think it would be faster if I have one.


It really depends upon the teacher.

In my opinion, true teachers are rare.

Justin Sandercoe is a teacher.

Most teachers in my experience are not teachers. Merely demonstrating and talking, in my opinion, is not the same as teaching. Teaching entrusts a responsibility to the teacher to make sure that the material is presented in such a way, that is best understood by the student. That's always been my attitude about teaching. It's why a DVD doesn't teach.

Now, speaking to your point, I think that being in self study, it's very hard to be both the student, and teacher, when you are self studying. So, getting a teacher that can teach and is inline with your goals, is a worthy consideration!

Kudos to you!

Best,

Sean
#21
I think the power of a good teacher as well, as opposed to a good internet resource, is that they can tailor stuff to you specifically. They can look at what you are doing, and what you know, and be cognisant of what direction you want to go in, and they can show you what the most important things to learn are for you, given where you're at. I spent some time learning a number of things that are not really important to me, because I had to discover what they were before I could decide whether or not that is useful for me.

A good teacher good save you all of that trouble. Or go through it a lot faster. But I think a big bottle neck can also be how much practice you put in. A teacher can give you information, and show you what drills can be useful for your specific problem areas. But the strength and dexterity and agility, and all that, will only come from putting the time in.

A teacher can also sort of give you a deadline to work for in that respect, which could also make things go faster.

Justin's videos are great, but there is something that a live teacher can provide that a video never could. But again, you'd want to find a good teacher for you.

It depends what you want and how good you want to get I guess.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 6, 2014,